1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
I. THE THREEFOLD DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION IN THE SOUL. Faith, hope, and charity are not absolutely distinct principles. In each there is a fusion of the other two. In dealing with the bold characteristics of religious advancement, we must seek, not differences, but stages.
1. Faith is the apprehension of the truth as the means of our salvation.
2. Hope is the apprehension of salvation by the truth.
3. Charity is the outflow of salvation from the heart. The stages are evident — faith finds the Saviour, hope delights in Him, but love desires to exhibit Him to others for their acceptance. We are justified by faith, delighted by hope, consecrated by love.
II. THE LAST STAGE IS GREATER THAN ITS FORERUNNERS.
1. Charity assimilates the heart to the life of Christ. Faith brings us to the Saviour, but love makes us like Him.
2. Love makes the Church a power for good. The generous heart is the power which brings the love of God to bear on men's stubborn hearts. There is no cross too heavy, and no sacrifice too great for love.
3. The influence of love is more abiding. Faith will be turned into sight, and hope into possession, but love will continue the ruling passion of the world.
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.